Monday, September 22, 2014

Forgiven and Cleansed

"What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed, and have touched with our hands, concerning the Word of life-that life was revealed, and we have see it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us-what we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may have fellowship along with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete." 1 John 1:1-4 

I'm having such a hard time narrowing my focus in 1 John right now! I want to type out the entire book! It is packed with very clear contrasts, encouraging truths and tough challenges. Since I began my walk with the Lord it has been a favorite book of mine. I'm only in Chapter 2 right now, but I may have to write a post on 3 and 4 too. There are several verses that pack a huge punch! I'm so grateful for John's heart for the Lord. We know that along with Peter and James, he was an "inner circle" friend of Jesus and that's clear by the passion he writes with. Jesus was his friend, teacher and Lord. I can only imagine the emotion that flowed as he wrote or spoke, whichever he may have done.:)

Right out of the gate John reminds us that he walked with Jesus. He touched Him, talked with Him, watched Him heal, preach, serve, give Himself up for the sake of humanity. He also watched Jesus after he rose. He saw the risen Christ. His dearest friend and Lord appeared and commissioned His followers to make disciples and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and to teach them to observe all Jesus had taught them.  No wonder John writes with such passion. He cannot communicate enough how thoroughly he knows the truth of this Jesus. The true Jesus, in whom there is no darkness at all. (1:5) He was doing what the risen Jesus commanded him to do.

1 John 1:9 was one of the first Bible verses I ever committed to memory and boy am I glad I did. I have to remind myself of it all the time. First, that when I come to Him seeking forgiveness He never refuses it. He always offers forgiveness and cleansing when we come to Him openly and honestly. My problem at times is making confession of what is actually wrong. Yes, there are outward behaviors that warrant a confession and request for forgiveness, but the outward action is nothing but a symptom of a deeper problem. Now that opens up a whole other can of worms. It's exhausting even beginning to think of all of the inward issues of the heart we have that cause unhealthy and unholy behavior. At least it is for me. Introspection is still a much needed process to brake the cycle of sin in our lives. And God has given us all that we need to do it. He's given us all we need to take an honest look at ourselves and to live a godly life, not a perfect one. (Peter 1:3) 

We don't have to be afraid of what comes up. The deep wounds of our life experiences. We all have them. The father that wasn't there. The mother that left. The love that left. The closest thing or person to us that died. The people who were supposed to love and protect us who lied and hurt us in whatever way it may be. All of this plays a part in who we are and how we sin. That combined with the fact that we are all born sinners (Romans 3:23) makes for a tough go at life. Until we get to the biggest "but" in the whole Bible...:) ( I love using that when I'm talking to kids)

"For the wages of sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23

Oh thank God we can receive that gift and have peace with God and freedom from all the junk this world throws at us! When we know in our hearts we have sinned and we come to Him with honest confession, we can be assured that our Lord and Savior forgives us. 

"If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 (ESV)
Not only does he forgive, but He cleanses us and says, go on back out and keep serving as I've taught you. We don't have to talk about this again. Unless of course you just deal with the sin behavior and not the root issue, then you'll be back talking about the same old stuff.:) Yes, I've been there. 
Another challenge from John is short and simple, but hits home when he says,

 "Whoever claims to live in Him, must walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:6 (NIV)

Wait a minute. Walk as Jesus did? Stop and think of the implications of that for a minute. Jesus was despised and rejected. Humiliated and mocked. During His ministry on earth He often did not know where He would lay His head to rest and He served everyone, but especially loved to amaze the poor and sick. The people which most of us are comfortable to stay far away from. He spoke in particular to the "religious" people of the day and told them the truths about themselves. That they were whitewashed tombs... appearing clean on the outside, but inside their hearts, evil abounded.

Yea, let's get real cozy in that challenge for a minute. Walk as Jesus did.

Wait. It's not cozy at all is it? He was humble. I think there should be an entirely different word for what He was. The simple fact that He held the power in His mouth to speak a word and blow the world to smithereens and didn't do it when He was nailed to that cross is flat out miraculous. And He tells us in His word to walk as He did? Oh. snap. Those are some pretty grand implications. An impossible challenge.

Thank God it's not in our power to do, but resting in His power and abiding in Him, (John 15) we can walk as He did and we will bear much fruit. (Eph. 3:20) Many have and many do. He goes before us and lives inside of us as believers. His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses. (2 Cor. 12:9)

"But Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible."  Matthew 19:26

John beheld the power of His glory and knew all things were possible for those who believed. Even with all of this being possible, we still choose our own way. The fact of the matter is, we still choose sin. But, for the believer, there is hope. There is always forgiveness. It never runs out. There is always hope. It never dries up. There is always power. It is never exhausted. It's eternal... as is His great love for us. Let's let His awesome and impossible forgiveness, hope, power and love pour out through our lives today! Let's walk together as Jesus did.

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